A&E is expanding its documentary series “Secrets of Playboy” with two additional episodes that will delve further into Hugh Hefner and his legacy through conversations with women who have never spoken up before.
“Secrets of Playboy” examines Hefner’s Playboy empire, unearthing allegations of coercion, sexual assault, drugging and manipulation from various women over decades. Since its premiere this past January, it has become A&E’s most-watched series launch in more than five years.
“Secrets of Playboy” airs Monday nights. The two new hourlong episodes will begin airing on March 28 and won’t be documentary style, like the current 10-episode series has been formatted. Instead, they will present new conservations, hosted by investigative journalist and former Playboy cover model Lisa Guerrero.
The new episodes will explore “The Girls Next Door” chapter of Hefner’s reign, taking a look into the E! series that aired in the 2000’s and revolved around Hefner’s younger girlfriends, who lived in the Playboy mansion.
The first episode on March 28 will feature Hefner’s former girlfriends, twin sisters Karissa and Kristina Shannon, who will tell their emotional story for the first time. The twins will discuss their experiences with Hefner and the TV show “The Girls Next Door,” which introduced a new generation to Hefner and the Playboy lifestyle, alleging that Hefner led a darker world than was publicly presented with rules designed to control women within Playboy.
On April 4, the second episode of the conversation series will feature former Playmates, girlfriends and employees, including Sondra Theodore, Susie Krabacher, Lisa Loving Barrett and Audrey Ann Huskey, discussing decades of fear and abuse they claim they experienced. Sex and trauma therapist, Dr. Kate Balestrieri, will also be in conversation during this episode.
Today, the company, now called PLBY Group, has distanced itself from Hefner. But, in response to A&E’s series, Hefner has had defenders come forward to protect his name, including his son, Cooper Hefner, who posted on social media that “Secrets of Playboy” is “salacious” and that the women’s stories are “a case study of regret becoming revenge.” Following the premiere, a letter defending Hefner was signed by hundreds of his ex-girlfriends, Playmates and employees who called the founder a man of “upstanding character” and categorized the series’ accusations as “unfounded.”
“It’s not a simple story,” the series’ director, Alexandra Dean, told Variety in an interview earlier this year, explaining why she wanted to re-examine Hefner’s empire in the lens of #MeToo. “Every shade of gray happened at the mansion and happened over a span of 40 years,” she said.
“Secrets of Playboy” is produced by Industrial Media’s The Intellectual Property Corporation with Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, Matt Shanfield and Erin Gamble serving as executive producers. Cari Townsend will direct the new episodes of conversations. Dean will serve as a consulting producer, Alexandra Orton is co-executive producer, and A&E’s executive producers include Elaine Frontain Bryant, Brad Abramson and Dolores Gavin.